Inside Blackhawks legend Brent Seabrook’s hunt for a second act in hockey | Coys Information

LANGLEY, British Columbia – Mazden Leslie, a 17-year-old defenseman for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, was lazily watching TV one night time when he discovered a replay of an outdated “Chicago Fireplace” episode and noticed a well-known – if clean-shaven – face. – face

Leslie paused the TV, took a fast photograph on her telephone and instantly despatched it to Brent Seabrook.

Seabrook texted proper again.

Sure, I am an actor too. I can do every thing.

Nonetheless each massive brother. Even when he’s sufficiently old to be their father.

They name him Seabs. Not coach, not Mr. Seabrook, not Brent. Solely Seabs. It was all the time simply Seabs. It did not take lengthy for that consolation stage to emerge with the Giants; Seabrook simply has that impact on individuals. Certain, lifelong Blackhawks fan and Giants winger Ty Halaburda admits he was slightly “star struck” the primary time Seabrook confirmed up on the Ladner Leisure Middle for apply. However then Seabrook began doing Seabrook issues – handing out nicknames, cracking jokes, placing individuals relaxed, telling tales concerning the good outdated days.

“He is really easy to speak to,” stated Halaburda, who was six years outdated when his hometown Canucks beat his beloved Blackhawks within the 2011 playoffs. “He is truthfully simply one other man. Only a nice man, nice character, and he is so humorous.”

Marian Hossa and Brent Seabrook in 2011. (Jonathan Daniel / Getty Photos)

Formally, Seabrook is a volunteer participant growth coach for the Giants. He makes the four-hour drive down from his dwelling in Kelowna each two weeks to do some one-on-one work with Giants defenders. He’ll have interaction within the energy play. He works with Giants head coach Michael Dyck — who coached Seabrook within the WHL greater than 20 years in the past as an assistant with the Lethbridge Hurricanes — to develop apply plans. He watches almost each sport on-line and has distant entry to the Giants’ video system and provides solutions on schemes, particular groups, particular person participant quirks and strategies.

It isn’t an off-the-cuff pastime for Seabrook. He takes it significantly.

“He is very passionate, and he loves the sport,” Giants assistant coach Adam Maglio stated. “He works with the teaching employees and clearly he pertains to the gamers. So it is lots of one-on-one talks with guys, or we’ll use him for a workforce discuss. He is like a Swiss Military knife for us when he is available in.”

Seabrook is a volunteer as a result of, greater than three years faraway from his final sport within the NHL, he’s nonetheless below contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning till the tip of the following season. (Sure, Seabrook has a Lightning jersey together with his title on it at dwelling; he thought it might be enjoyable to ask for one, and Tampa Bay was completely satisfied to oblige.) Giants basic supervisor Barclay Parneta joked that Seabrook is “the highest-paid volunteer within the WHL,” because of that eight-year, $55 million deal that was as soon as the supply of a lot consternation in Chicago.

Working with the giants was a pure first step out of retirement. His mother and father lived in Tsawwassen, within the South Vancouver suburbs the place the Giants practice. So when Dyck went to teach Workforce Canada on the world juniors final 12 months, he requested Seabrook to fill in for him behind the Giants bench for a couple of weeks.

“My file is horrible due to it, however I’ve discovered quite a bit,” Seabrook stated.

“I believe we went 2-9,” Parneta stated with fun. “So I instantly thought, let’s deliver him again!”

Now Seabrook has the coaching bug, a lot to his personal shock. He is without doubt one of the head coaches in Wednesday night time’s CHL/NHL High Prospects Recreation in close by Langley, teaching in opposition to Connor Bedard. On Tuesday afternoon, he was at middle ice on the Langley Occasions Centre, main drills, launching pucks, speaking up gamers, and even eradicating the nets afterward to make approach for the Zamboni. He appeared like a person snug in retirement. He gave the impression of a man who was having enjoyable and in a superb headspace.

However actually, he is a younger man — solely 37 years outdated — together with his entire life forward of him. And he is simply attempting to determine learn how to spend it.

“It is bizarre to say I am retired when my dad is 66 and he is not,” Seabrook stated. “However I really like hockey. I all the time cherished it. I wish to keep within the sport, however I do not know precisely what I wish to do but.”

Seabrook was in tears when he referred to as Michael Terry, the workforce physician of the Blackhawks. Three months after a debilitating and worsening hip harm pressured him into early retirement, Seabrook has not improved. In actual fact, he was in agony.

“I could not stroll,” Seabrook stated. “I referred to as Dr. Terry and stated, ‘I am unable to dwell like this.'”

Seabrook had an MRI examination. He noticed a specialist in again. He noticed a hip specialist. Finally, he acquired a complete hip alternative, and it modified his life. Simply 5 weeks after the operation, Seabrook felt so good that he referred to as his physician and significantly instructed him that he needed to return to the NHL.

“He simply laughed at me and stated, ‘No, you are not,'” Seabrook stated.

However he was capable of slide once more. He might journey once more. Out of the blue, a second profession in hockey felt life like. He cannot do something till his contract is up subsequent 12 months, so within the meantime, he is attempting to study every thing he can about what he referred to as “the opposite aspect” of hockey. There may be the event work with the Giants, and now the coaching within the High Prospects Recreation. He tagged together with outdated Blackhawks teammate Colin Fraser to scout the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, marveling at how Fraser projected what these 16- and 17-year-olds would seem like in a Blackhawks uniform 5 years down the highway. And he continues to be in common contact with Blackhawks basic supervisor Kyle Davidson, affiliate GM Norm Maciver and hockey ops advisor Brian Campbell.

“He is in my workplace asking what the GM is doing. He is on the market asking what the coach is doing. He talks to the athletic coach, the tools,” Parneta stated. “He’s so fascinated with each side. He simply sees how every thing works. It’s fairly fascinating to see. I do not know what he plans to do. I simply hope he does not come and take my job.”

Brent Seabrook comes down from Kelowna to work out with the Vancouver Giants two or thrice a month. (Courtesy Vancouver Giants)

Coaching appears to be a pure match. It is exhausting to think about Seabrook grinding it out on the lonely highway as a scout. He belongs in a locker room, his massive voice and massive character permeates each stall. He is been the beating coronary heart of the Blackhawks for 15 seasons, and it is no shock that he is proper again into that function with the Giants, even when the gamers are almost twenty years youthful than him. It took him some time to discover ways to work with youthful gamers — within the NHL, he was surrounded by confirmed winners who did not want a lot handing — however he tailored shortly. The Giants required extra instructing and extra endurance. He did not simply inform them to choose off the go whereas defending two-on-one with a stomach slide; he confirmed them precisely learn how to do it and precisely which particular corners to chop.

However greater than that, he discovered to attach with the gamers on a extra basic stage, attain out to them and instill in them a successful mindset. Most coaches have both not performed within the NHL or are many years previous their taking part in days. Even Giants assistant coach Jim Vandermeer, a teammate of Seabrook’s with the Blackhawks within the late 2000s, is 11 years faraway from his final NHL sport.

Seabrook is not only a reputation. He’s a reputation these guys know.

“He is younger,” Giants ahead Samuel Honzek stated. “It was solely a short while in the past that he was nonetheless taking part in. However he’s additionally straightforward to speak to. He won’t chunk your head off.”

“It was loopy to have a man like that round,” Leslie stated. “He teaches you all of the issues about learn how to be skilled and learn how to keep there all these years. He is received three Cups, so it is fairly loopy. No matter he tells you, you need to hear.”

“It isn’t just a few man telling them these items, it is somebody with precise expertise,” Parneta stated. “He lived via it, they usually comprehend it. So if he says one thing, they’re like, ‘Oh, I get it.’ I might inform them the identical factor they usually would not take heed to me. However when Brent Seabrook says it, they’ll.”

Seabrook already veered on this path late in his profession, welcoming rookie Kirby Dach into his dwelling and mentoring him all through the season. Now he is making use of every thing he is discovered — learn how to discuss to younger gamers, learn how to attain younger gamers, learn how to join with younger gamers — to the High Prospects Recreation. It is an exhibition for certain, however for all these gamers attempting to compete for a draft place behind Bedard, the strain is immense.

Seabrook is doing every thing he can to ease that strain.

“It is a sport stuffed with gamers who should be put in conditions to deliver out their finest,” Seabrook stated. “My focus is to have enjoyable and maintain them free. They’ve 300 scouts within the crowd, and all these items are taking place. So that you attempt to deliver one of the best out of them and have enjoyable. It is the best way I needed to play. That is how I needed the locker room to be, a enjoyable place. And I had a fairly loud voice so I might generally get it that approach.”

It is a unusual factor to be retired early. You are feeling eliminated and remoted. Chances are you’ll not miss the every day grind and the bodily toll the sport takes, however you’re feeling resentful of each season opener and each playoff opener you are not concerned in. You additionally go from seeing your finest buddies on daily basis to not seeing them in any respect. everybody You are feeling like an outsider, and it isn’t an ideal feeling.

After Patrick Sharp retired, Seabrook seen that they did not discuss fairly often, and it bothered him.

“So I gave him s— at some point. I am like, ‘Why do not we discuss?’” Seabrook recalled. “He is like, ‘It is exhausting to speak to you guys. You’re busy. You’re on the best way. You’re on this or that metropolis. I am considering of calling you, nevertheless it’s sport day, and I do not wish to trouble you. I verify the schedule and I say, ‘Okay, I will name tomorrow.’ However then I neglect and it is too late.’”

Seabrook understands that now. He needs to speak to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane extra typically. He needs to see how issues go below Luke Richardson. He needs — as everybody does — to know which approach they’re leaning in the case of their no-movement clauses because the commerce deadline approaches. However he largely stays away. He went to Tuesday’s Blackhawks-Canucks sport at Rogers Area and deliberate to meet up with the blokes after the sport, however the workforce was headed straight to the airport and off to Calgary, so there wasn’t a lot time. He stated he discovered texts had been extra more likely to be returned than calls.

That is simply not his world anymore. Just a few years had been taken from him too quickly; the spirit was prepared however the flesh was weak, too worn from 1,114 regular-season video games and 123 playoff video games. However with a brand new hip and a brand new perspective, he is in search of a second act in hockey after his contract lastly expires.

Possibly it is going to be in junior hockey, right here in Vancouver with the Giants. Possibly it is going to be within the NHL, again in Chicago, with the one workforce he is ever identified. He nonetheless has 17 months to determine that out.

Within the meantime, he’s content material to be an unpaid volunteer for a junior hockey workforce. Hey, man, hockey’s hockey. And “humble” is a phrase the Giants throw round quite a bit when speaking about Seabrook.

He drives a pickup truck from Kelowna to Vancouver. He brushes off Parneta’s provide to have the workforce cowl his fuel. He goes out for beers with the Giants employees. He offers his telephone quantity to each member of the Giants and tells them to name or textual content anytime. He sends them texts of encouragement or congratulations or constructive criticism after video games.

And he is sitting within the room with the boys, telling tales about Kane and Toews and Keith and the outdated days.

Again on the ice, again within the room, again in his factor. Simply Seabs being Seabs.

“I am simply attempting to have enjoyable,” Seabrook stated. “The sport of hockey is enjoyable. It is meant to be enjoyable. And also you play finest if you’re having enjoyable. For now, I am completely satisfied to be across the sport once more.”

(High photograph of Brent Seabrook at High Prospects Recreation apply on Tuesday: Bob Frid / Courtesy of Vancouver Giants)

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